The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2023

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JUNE 2023 Issue

Alphabet as letters


Remember to look around. Remember where and how you are.
Observe bodies of metamorphosis and loss—
it’s the alphabet again! a magic on this edge.

And anything makes almost anything
once combination is freed up.
Even “amorous” does not begin to cover it.


it’s always

the between    space of curious relations,
an eros opening, pulsing,
bonding, horizons, root systems, Thursdays


No bon-bons. No amuse-bouches.
Little charm.

So now you’ve made this very work so
thoroughly uncharming,
that very few will care.

And since you’re not creating goodies,
you’ll not be getting any goodies.
So there.


Some days in the year are called The Days of Awe.

How dare me dare the year.

All days are.


Chew through
oaten flutes
and maybe you

can write an Epic,


Certainly your box of failure will be interesting in retrospect, don’t you think?


It’s all gloss, i.e.
Entanglement, commentary.
Given I’ve never met a genre I didn’t cotton to,
being green that way.


“Yo, it’s ancient history
what happened with the history.”

“Why should I think of the history;

I wasn’t here for the history.”


All the various imperfections
stumbles, mumbles, lurches. And all still beginning--
though “me long eroded”
Thus pushing against the turgid weight
 of something once named --

(condensing, but not too much, explaining, but not too much, analyzing without sealing over,
porous, singing, not too pretty, performing, but not acting out, investigating but no rigidity, in
readiness but never befogged by theory, often inexplicable)

This as “I” myself?
Episodes of unevenness imperfectly irregular.

I don’t know. Am I defending the right word?


What makes you continue investigating these junked possibilities for continuance?
Force of habit? Without joy, only jaded insistence—just this—you need to attend to your actual
justifications. You are free-fall faking in the guise of doing justice.


I never knew why. Yet, still, yet still, and still.
There is is.
There it it.


Languages often talk to each other,
enchanted and somewhat drunk on mutual affection.
People, sometimes not so much.


This is a manifesto
for no one but myself.



“I write what I think is necessary to write.” (said Pierre Boulez)
“Does this work have necessity?”(I say)

Not trying to annihilate
anyone else’s claims for why do the work.


Every one of her sentences is poised like the last sentence.
Of her work. Every sentence.
Yet nothing ever feels as if it’s ending.

It was all it, all in it, all of it,
deep within and ready without.
at once porous and absolute.


Catalyzed syntax
attentive necessity
embodied thinking
high stakes weaving
a twist of extra string slid in.

And hanging an egg over her head
held by a thin thread
invisible plumb line
from the lofty ceiling,
to vibrate during choral singing.

Then swoon with the
moon in the universe.
[                                       ]
This only one picture, perhaps, but
encapsulates particular clarities of praxis.


Our epistolary ribbons
glisten with tempting
whose alertness
to this intricate map of quests
threaded through quality betweens
suggest us speaking
second further languages

a queerish bilinguality for players


The past is not that clear, pressures riven into desire, and there are losses of languages,
not enough evidence. Thru time, this is so true that it’s a wonder we have any residue. There’s so
much effaced, unheard, unknown. The present is also quickly effaced.

But strong within one single probe is revelation—how the memory-rhizome travels its multiples
through and beyond

Plus then there’s the most intriguing question
how to select it, how to arrange it.
how to sequence intricacies of the suddenly “sayable,”


Shoes of the disappeared. That’s the memorial.
Is the realness of other people one of the harder concepts to reckon with?
Their former realness, and the events undertaken to nullify their realness.
And often commonplace.

To struggle with this fact, to mourn it, show their shoes.
Shoes lined up, edge of the canal. In front of the school. On the field.
In bunker-like storage units.
This repeated in several countries, given various histories, in that one medium,
an array set out
to commemorate
variable, but similar events.


I did not want to come to terms.
But I’m also getting impatient
with my terminability.

This is no triumph


What do I need?

sweet bread baking in the daytime?

honey pooling in the yeasty airholes of my life?

nasturtiums I can pinch right off the plant and eat?

You need to download this upgrade.



is very foxy,

“peripherally, centrifugally, and radially.”

Precisely like the wicked wheels of time.


Writing did not correspond to the experience of being here.

It is another kind of wave pulsing in time, differently

Was I forcing it too much?
Or did this activity, simply called “WORK,”
release the wave into the real.


is Here:
Where things cross, where they come loose, where they become mysterious.
And hope they might begin to make design.


Workspace storage unit

New MaterialOld MaterialJunk
still usable

It could actually be    anything
that confronts you. A comma. A dot. A yod, one smallest letter.

It could be a pile of dirty yellow rag.


You say
You want to finish undone work from many years ago?
You cannot.
The poems might be undead, but they’re zombie work

Put it to rest:
elegies for strange bits and of unwritten poems
all must remain unwritten.
Once there was a stake
but now it’s in their hearts.



Rachel Blau DuPlessis

Rachel Blau DuPlessis is the author of Drafts, NUMBERS, and several critical considerations of poetry and gender. Recent books are Selected Poems 1980-2020 from CHAX and A Long Essay on the Long Poem from University of Alabama. Expected soon are Life in Handkerchiefs (Materialist Press), Daykeeping (Selva Oscura), and Eurydics (Shearsman).


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2023

All Issues